I heard someone recently say, "Until you rest in the finality of the cross, you will never experience the reality of the resurrection". Something of this statement touched a chord in me, particularly in light of what we have been reflecting on together as we worked our way through some of Paul's teaching in the book of Romans. Remember Paul's declaration of what our baptism in the life of the Spirit makes real for us;
We were baptized into his death
We were buried with him (Rom 6:4)
We may live a new life by God's glorious grace (Rom 6:4)
We are united with him in his resurrection (Rom 6:5)
Our old self was crucified with him (Rom 6:6)
We are no longer enslaved to our body under the rule of sin (Rom 6:6)
We have been set free from sin (Rom 6:7)
We are fully alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:11)
Sin is not your master because your not under law but under grace (Rom 6:14)
So God no longer deals with us on the basis of our sin, but rather on the basis of our being sons and daughters in Christ Jesus, Jesus' brothers and sisters if you like. Sin has been dealt with fully on Calvary, the cross was God's final word on it and that word in the Greek was 'tetelestai', "It is finished!" We have been totally forgiven for every sin, past, present and future, but as well as purchasing our forgiveness through his self-sacrifice, Jesus' resurrection also means something to us.
Justification is what brings peace with God and makes new life, the abundant life Jesus modeled and made possible for us all, now a reality for us upon the earth. As Paul will say in Romans 8, "the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace". So, back to the verse at the top of the page from James, why might there be any need to confess sin any more?? Well, it is important to note that we confess as Christians, not to be forgiven (because we already are), but to be healed. I think that this speaks to the healing of our souls, including our memories and our old patterns of thinking and behaving (often due to old emotions), as well allow ourselves to be truly known in the context of a loving, accepting community of people who also belong to King Jesus.
Satan has no place there, no foothold unless we give him one through our unwillingness to "truth in love". Confession and subsequent prayer of righteous Christ-followers, help me to put off the enemy's deception and the flesh's lusts, and to keep putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (see Romans 13:14). Healing of our memories (at least their power to keep us from Christlikeness), healing of our souls and even our bodies, spring forth from the light coming from Christ, His word and His people. We become mirrors to one another to help us truly see ourselves even as we work out our salvation. We can confess without shame or fear as there is now no condemnation and we are being perfected in love (See Romans 8:1 & 1 John 4:18).
Perhaps this is some of what John might mean by the 'fellowship of light' in the following verse;
Thanks be to God for his wondrous gift of life and love to all. May the Spirit lead us into ever deeper and courageous community where we truth in love and are changed into his likeness.
With love and prayers,